Wally Wonders Why

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city of Bellingham

Is it Money or What?

bnsfCheck Below for recent Updates

 

Original Post from July 31, 2012

It’s got to be something that keeps the Bellingham Herald referring to the City of Bellingham Initiative No. 2012-2 concerning the people’s right of self-government as “coal train initiative” or the “No Coal! initiative” as they just did in their article BNSF joins legal case against Bellingham coal train initiative.

John Stark wrote that article and another article last month where he also referred to the initiative as the “no-coal-train initiative” and “Coal-Free Bellingham initiative” so perhaps the money or what could be a John Stark bias?  Maybe?  Maybe the Herald stands to lose a little advertising revenue from irate hamsters if they actually call the initiative for what it is; a proposal to radically depart from our normal way of governing.

So is it money or what?  I don’t really know, but as long as the local media keeps failing in their duty to the public and keeps playing into the hands of the Bellingham Bill of Rights folks, the dollars to sort out the mess is going to keep adding up for we the taxpayers.  On the other hand, if the Herald actually served their readers with untainted information, this initiative would likely die a sudden death from lack of public support.  Instead, this initiative drive enjoys continued wide public support because the Herald and the Bellingham Bill of Rights people continue to widely market this as a no coal initiative.

What?  You still believe this is about coal trains running through Bellingham?  Sorry, but you’re among those who have been mislead.  If this were just about coal trains running through Bellingham then the initiative might read something like this,

BALLOT TITLE FOR CITY OF BELLINGHAM INITIATIVE No. 2012-2
City of Bellingham Initiative No. 2012-2 prohibits railroads from transporting coal in the City.
“Should this measure be enacted into law?” Yes?______ No?______

Instead the initiative actually reads like this,

exact language

That’s right a true anti-coal train initiative would have one point, banning coal trains, but this initiative has about 10 points with only one of them being the transport of coal.

  1. concerns the people’s right of self-government
  2. This measure would establish the sovereignty of Bellingham residents
  3. the rights of natural communities
  4. rights to a sustainable energy future and a healthy climate;
  5. prohibit corporations from transporting coal in the City;
  6. deny legal personhood and constitutional rights to corporate violators
  7. deny the use of federal and state preemptive law to corporate violators;
  8. deny the validity of contrary permits;
  9. authorize private party civil enforcement actions
  10. repeal all inconsistent provisions of existing City ordinances

 

So if transporting coal is only one of ten points, then why doesn’t the Herald refer to this initiative by one of the other nine points like the Bellingham Sovereignty Initiative, Right to Sustainable Energy Future Initiative, or the People’s Right to Self-Government Initiative?   Again, I don’t know if it is it money or what?

What?  Even after reading the initiative, you still don’t believe that this isn’t about coal trains?  Would you believe it if you heard it straight from the horses mouth?  You can if you want.  In fact Stoney Bird, a retired corporate lawyer on the steering committee for Coal Free Bellingham, who is proposing the initiative, was just on The Joe Show earlier in the week.  Among much legal ramblings and rantings he had these telling words.

And I’m really optomistic about its getting on the ballot, the cities claims against this initiative really focus on one part of the initiative which is the ban on coal trains, there’s much more in it, the whole Bill of Rights, is is goes beyond that.

if you look at it, what,  the core of this initiative is the bill of rights

Stoney Bird  – KGMI Podcasts – The Joe Show 7/30/12

So if both the initiative and it’s authors say this isn’t about coal, then why does the Bellingham Herald?   Is it Money or What?  Who are they beholding to?

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Update for August 4th

And they”re still at it.  Judge Snyder reinforced that the initiative is about restructuring government, rather than about banning coal transport, when he ruled that the initiative cannot be put on the ballot because the "initiative exceeded the scope of city government’s power and would have, among other things, attempted to nullify state and federal laws." Yet the Bellingham Herald still headlined this as an "Anti-coal initiative" and described it as an "initiative that would have blocked the transport of coal through Bellingham will not be on the November ballot in Whatcom County."

Update for August 6th,

Which Bellingham Herald poll results will they go with?  Will they use the set of results you see after you take the poll? Or will they use the set of results you see when you click “See how you Compare” link?  The first shows more city residents supporting the initiative while the second shows an opposite result with more city residents opposing.

Compare

Updated again for August 6th,

Listened to Natalie McClendon on the 8/6/12Joe Show podcast this afternoon and when Joe asked her what she thought of the Initiative/Bellingham Bill of Rights, she responded that her first impression had been that she was reading a declaration of independence.  As Joe chuckled he threw in a secessionist comment that went along the line of if Texas can secede the why not Bellingham.  The point of this is that the initiative and the Bellingham Bill of Rights are also recognized by former chair of Whatcom Democrats and local progress talk show host as not really about Coal, so why doesn’t the Bellingham Herald?  Is it Money or What?

Updated one more time on August 16th

and one more time

The Herald Politics Blog titles a post Rally planned for August 31 in favor of public vote on anti-coal-train initiative giving us yet one more example of misrepresenting the initiative to the people as a Coal issue.  Don’t bother to think about this being put on by the local Socialist Alternative group, the Bellingham Bill of Rights people still calling themselves Coal Free Bellingham in spite themselves saying this is not about coal, and Decolonize Whatcom who are really the ReOccupy crowd which I believe gave us the guy who disrupted the County council meeting with a mic check.

 

And yet another update on August 17th.  Wow has it been only one day?

down to the wire 

It took just one more day/article for the Herald to refer to the Bellingham Bill of Rights initiative as the “no-coal measure” and the “no-coal-train initiative.”   The article State appeals court to hear Bellingham no-coal measure continues the push to get the measure on the ballot as some kind of popularity poll.  Although the results of the poll would be inaccurate because with the efforts of the group and the Herald, people believe they are voting against coal trains when they are in fact voting against our proven system of government.

"The point is to get (the no-coal initiative) on the ballot, and then the powers that be begin to understand where the wind’s blowing," Bird said.

The “powers that be” (and I hate that lame cop out phrase) are all the voters in our state and nation.  That includes the people of Bellingham, but they are a small minority of the people of Washington and the people of the US. who actually are in control of transport of goods (coal and otherwise).   It’s in our US Constitution.  it’s Article1, Section 8, Clause 3.  It’s called the Commerce Clause because it reserves for the federal government, exclusive power over trade between states, foreign nations and Indian tribes.  We the people of the United States are the “powers that be” to which Stoney Bird refers.  The people of Bellingham have the same rights, the same representation, and the same power as anyone else in out nation to control the flow of coal trains.  I don’t know what the Bellingham Herald hopes to gain by conspiring with Stoney Bird’s separatists to take rights, representation and power from US citizens, but making enemies is no way to sell papers.

 

It’s Official!  One more headline on August 28th claiming this initiative to be about coal trains.

Capture it is official I won’t deny that in another portion of the article they did refer to this as also about the Bellingham Community Bill of Rights, but the headline and opening sentence are what they are, which is deceptive regarding the true nature of the initiative. 

 

Place Holder for next Update about the Herald referring to this as a Coal thing

Ready for the Ban?

Great mock ad which made me realize that we only have about 3 weeks left until the Bellingham bag ban goes into effect.  The clip is foreign, so don’t expect any tasteful euphemisms, in fact it is certainly a bit on the dysphemistic side.

I’m not real sure how the whole bag ban thing is going to pan out, but probably not like the advertisement.  Really who is going to actually take their squid home in a cotton mesh bag?

As far as it affecting me?  I’m also not real excited about a bunch of paper bags lying around, so I’ll have to shake out my reusables and throw them in the car.   The Bellingham bag ban is actually fairly selective though,

  • Single-use plastic carry out bags are prohibited.  This includes all plastic bags less than 2.25 mils thick provided at check out or point of sale.
  • Customers must be charged 5 cents per large paper bag. Retailers keep the revenue from the 5-cent charge, which is taxable and must be shown on sales receipts.
  • Large paper bags requiring the 5-cent charge must be a minimum of 40 percent post-consumer recycled fiber and the fiber content must be marked on the outside.
  • Smaller paper bags may be provided with or without charge at the store’s discretion.
  • Thick plastic bags — 2.25 mil or greater — are deemed reusable and may be provided with or without charge at the store’s discretion

COB.org

…so it wouldn’t surprise me to see stores start offering heavier gauge plastic bags as a backup, rather than going back to paper and dealing with the City imposed nickel fee/tax, as well as the rain soaked paper bags dumping their customer’s purchases halfway to their car.    Other city’s like San Francisco actually amended their bans and tied up this loophole.

WHEREAS, The intention of the Ordinance was to reduce the use of single-use plastic
bags by banning them at supermarkets and drugstores; and,

WHEREAS, The Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance allows stores to give away reusable
bags, which are defined as including any plastic bag at least 2.5 mil thick; and

WHEREAS, This definition has resulted in the unintended consequence of some stores
distribtlting 2.5 mil thick polyethylene plastic bags,

SF bag ban amendment

Perhaps everyone will go with reusable  perhaps we’ll see a switch back to paper, perhaps we will see all stores go to the heavy gauge “legal” plastic as the norm.   We shall see.  We shall see.  We shall see.

Rendezvous with Stupidity

One of the reasons I why I thought it was time to abandon the whole idea of a coal port was because regardless of right or wrong the battle would come at a large financial cost to Whatcom County and Bellingham.   Two recent Herald articles point out one aspect of the lunacy that comes at taxpayer expense.  On one hand we have some pretty powerful reasons why the City’s doesn’t want to waste resources putting the so called “Anti-Coal” initiative on the ballot.

“The initiative proposes  legislation that exceeds the authority of the City of Bellingham,” the suit says. “In its fundamental overriding purpose, the initiative seeks to regulate interstate commerce, the railroads, and the rights of corporations. It also declares local ordinances to be superior to federal law and state law. The City does not have the authority to pass and enforce the measures proposed. … To pass such a law would be directly contrary to state law, the state constitution, federal law, and the United States Constitution.”

via Bellingham files lawsuit to block coal train initiative | Cargo Terminal | The Bellingham Herald.

And on the other hand we have the initiative backers who don’t seem to care if the initiative is “directly contrary to state law, the state constitution, federal law, and the United States Constitution.”

BELLINGHAM – One of the leaders of the anti-coal train initiative campaign says his group will go to court to battle a city lawsuit aimed at keeping the measure off the November ballot.

Stoney Bird, the former corporate attorney named as one of the defendants in the city’s lawsuit, said he is undaunted by the seemingly overwhelming legal barriers to the initiative. As he sees it, the initiative signed by close to 10,000 people that would establish a “Community Bill of Rights” is a valid way for Bellingham citizens to determine their own environmental destiny.

Some say you can’t argue with stupid, but the reality is that the City has to argue with stupid because stupid has a lawyer.  And stupid doesn’t seem to care whether they can win, they are “undaunted by the seemingly overwhelming legal barriers.”  I wonder just how much will this little rendezvous with stupidity will cost us before it is all said and done?

 

Bellingham council seeks court challenge on no-coal-train initiative

Attention Bellingham residents!

Bellingham council seeks court challenge on no-coal-train initiative

BELLINGHAM – After Coal-Free Bellingham initiative backers turned in about 10,000 signatures for a ballot proposal that would outlaw coal trains in the city, the City Council voted to challenge the validity of the measure in court.

via Bellingham council seeks court challenge on no-coal-train initiative | Local News | The Bellingham Herald.

If you are a Bellingham resident you need to give this "Coal-Free Bellingham Initiative" your full attention before signing or supporting it because it is not really about coal.  It is really about using local anti-coal and anti-coal port sentiment to trick you into signing away your rights.

BALLOT TITLE FOR CITY OF BELLINGHAM INITIATIVE No. 2012-2
City of Bellingham Initiative No. 2012-2 concerns the people’s right of self-government. This measure would establish the sovereignty of Bellingham residents, the rights of natural communities, and rights to a sustainable energy future and a healthy climate; prohibit corporations from transporting coal in the City; deny legal personhood and constitutional rights to corporate violators; deny the use of federal and state preemptive law to corporate violators; deny the validity of contrary permits; authorize private party civil enforcement actions; and repeal all inconsistent provisions of existing City ordinances.
“Should this measure be enacted into law?” Yes?______ No?______

Did you find the word “coal” in the initiative?   Go ahead look again if you have to, it is buried right in the middle of a lot of things that are completely separate issues from either coal trains or coal ports.  I’m fairly certain that it is all these separate issues, that make up the bulk of the initiative, which give the City of Bellingham cause to challenge the initiative’s validity.  

I’d like to believe that this initiative will never actually appear on a ballot, but strange things happen in Bellingham. 

Just say no!

COBPAC Resolving to Undermine Your Federal Vote

resolution approved There it is.  The City of Bellingham last night passed another resolution on a Federal  matter, thus continuing to assert themselves as one of our strong local Political Action Committees (PAC’s).   It’s one thing for a city council to pass resolutions regarding how they will and won’t conduct city affairs, but it is a PAC who resolves to oppose specific legislation or rulings on legislation such as the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC .  As I’ve said in the past, each person in this nation has elected representation in these Federal Issues and Bellingham City Council members are not them.   Even so, many people and groups know that the Bellingham City Council is ready, willing and able to be used as a tool for most any progressive cause.  In this case the progressive cause is beyond just the court decision and is both clearly pro-union and clearly anti-capitalism, which should read as socialism.

The basic Citizens United decision can be summarized as this:

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United v. FEC on Jan. 21, 2010, is having a profound effect on the laws governing corporate political activity in nearly half the states. The court ruled that the federal government may not prohibit direct corporate and union spending on advertising for candidates’ elections.  www.ncsl.org

My personal position on this matter would have me going against this ruling which most say is conservative.   In a purest sense, I’d get behind an effort to allow only limited personal donations to campaigns and campaign advertising.  I think that would be even, fair, encourage candidates to stand on their own merit and I don’t really mind so much if that position carries a conservative or progressive label.   The problem with my position is that it is not supported by either the progressive or conservative camps.

The conservative camps seem to be rallying in favor of this ruling which would allow more wide open high dollar candidate support while the progressive camp is rallying against the “evil” corporate financial influence and holding their breath hoping that nobody notices that the ruling was aimed at unions as much as corporations.  And the progressive camp is right where the City of Bellingham has pitched their tent and is unrolling their sleeping bag.

"WHEREAS, several proposed amendments to the Constitution of the United States are being considered by the United States Congress that would allow the American people, by and through their democratically elected government, to limit the rights of corporations to unfairly influence elections.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BELLINGHAM, WASHINGTON:

That the City Council of the City of Bellingham hereby supports amending the United States Constitution to declare that corporations are not entitled to the constitutional rights of natural persons, and further to ensure that the expenditure of corporate money to influence the electoral process is no longer a form of constitutionally protected speech and may be subject to justifiable regulation for the common good, and the City Council calls on Congress to begin the process of amending the United States Constitution"

Proposed Resolution, Bill Number 19593, City of Bellingham

I know!  Where is the progressive COBPAC’s resolve that unions not “unfairly influence elections” and where is their declaration against union expenditures or unions assuming the rights of natural persons?   If the Citizens United ruling was so amazingly wrong, why is the COBPAC resolving to be outraged against corporations, but not unions?   Well you won’t hear an anti-union argument from progressives, because the outrage against the Citizens United decision is not about the rights of groups vs. individuals it’s about progressives silencing capitalist corporations leaving only unions to unfairly influence elections.

As I said above, I’d get behind an effort to allow only personal donations to campaigns.  But I’d only get behind that effort if the effort attacked unions, especially government unions, with the same vigor that they attack corporations.  Unions don’t qualify as people anymore than corporations.

Oh, and by the way City of Bellingham, when the Citizens United ruling refers to corporations they are referring to both non-profit as well as for profit corporations and so…well since 1904 you’ve actually been a corporation.  So I think, you as a corporation,  by passing this resolution, you’ve actually violated the spirit of your own resolution against corporate influence in elections and right about now your head should be exploding from circular logic.

 

Take home points:

  1. If you are anything but a raging progressive you should be outraged at the City of Bellingham.
  2. City of Bellingham is again acting as a de facto Political Action Committee.
  3. The City of Bellingham is again acting as de facto idiots.

 

Winking smile

Updated: Cold War Has Come Home to Roost

And it looks like the socialist fowl will be roosting in Bellingham’s Maritime Heritage Park. The group Occupy Bellingham has announced its plan for a permanent occupation encampment beginning tomorrow.?? You might ask as I did if this is legal?? The answer is well sort of legal maybe.

City of Bellingham Municipal Code

Title 8 PARKS, CEMETERIES, AND PUBLIC PLACES
Chapter 04 GENERAL REGULATIONS

8.04.080 – OVERNIGHT CAMPING

A. Overnight camping is prohibited on park property except by written permission of the Director of Parks and Recreation.
B. A violation of this section is a civil infraction.
[Ord. 10612 ?2, 1995]

 

So if they did received written permission, then yes it is legal to camp overnight.?? But did they get permission to take up permanent residency at the park?? And is that even possible or is there a time limit on events?

list

<Click Image for Complete list>

Image & information from http://occupy-bellingham.org.

I did check another section of the City of Bellingham code and found that most of what is planned, including fires, could be legal, but again only with proper permission obtained “by?submitting a written application to the office of the Director of Parks and Recreation at least 10 days in advance of the date of intended use.”

I still didn?t find anything that allows permanent residency in the park by groups so their plan may have some legal kinks.? However legal kinks may not be a problem because Kelli Linville, who seems a shoe in as Bellingham?s next mayor, and City Council member Terry Bornemann were both smiling for the camera as they marched with the Occupy Bellingham a few weeks ago.

 

So?I?m kind of doubting there will be legal issues with the city, but the Occupy Group was also looking for ?VOLUNTEERS!! (Especially first aid & Legal!)? Your guess is as good as mine about what they have planned that might require first aid and a lawyer.? I do wonder though, when push comes to shove, which side Kelli Linville & Terry Bornemann will be on??? And as it?s been almost a tradition for the City of Bellingham to swoon over anyone involved with our local socialist groups, will this have to change if things turn south, the way they have in other occupied cities?? Will the City of Bellingham have to grow up?

Updated 10/29/11

From a Bellingham Herald article today,

Though Bellingham Parks and Recreation Interim Director Leslie Bryson did not give approval for the overnight camping, the city said it is being flexible with the campers in hopes of keeping costs down and ensuring safety. City officials have given the campers guidelines to follow about noise, sanitation, fires and food service.

I guess this clears up any question regarding the legality of the encampment in a Bellingham park; They are in violation of a Bellingham Municipal code, but the city has chosen not to enforce this rule in this case. ?Comments on their UStream confirms that police had avoided the area during the first night and that park officials came by, but didn’t ask them to leave ?Their UStream also showed two other admirable, yet I think illegal, things going on: ?they have landscaped the part with bark to cut down on mud and they are processing grey water and dumping watering plants in park. ? Food does not appear to be in issue with much apparently being donated, but on the less than admirable front one forum poster said “some of us also have foodstamps available if it gets that bad”

Oh, and they need ear plugs because trains are loud.

If you’d like to keep a tabs on the goings on down there while you occupy your office or living room in solidarity with the 53%, check out their Occupy website, Occupy Forum, Facebook page, or go hi-tech and visit their Upstream.

And one more thought and then really I’ll quit. ?Mayor Dan Pike said in a press release referenced in the above Herald article.

“Organizers have expressed and, so far, followed through with their commitment to protest against wealth inequity in our country in a non-confrontational manner that is respectful of public safety and respectful of city property,”

Really soon to be former Mayor Pike? ?Politely flipping their noses at the rules of the city and people you represent then illegally taking up residence in a public park is being non-confrontational? ?Would it still be non-confrontational?if you had said, No? ?Ronald Reagan once said,

?Let?s set the record straight. There is no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there is only one guaranteed way you can have peace?and you can have it in the next second?surrender.”

Mayor Pike… Ronald Reagan was joking, not giving leadership advice!

 

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